May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. 1 Thessalonians 3:13 (NIV).
Since it’s Good Friday, before you remember that “it is finished,” I’m going to lay some bad news on you that you probably won’t want to hear.
You aren’t good enough.
You, me, Pope Francis, Roseanne Barr, David Hogg, Franklin Graham, anyone else you can think of: on our own we are damned. Not just damned dirty dogs, damned dirty sinners, damned old curmudgeons, but really damned. Eternally separated from God forever. On our own, we have thought, said, and done things that put an abyss between the love of Jesus that declared “it is finished” and where we’re standing now.
When we try to do good things for other people because people are inherently good, we’re damned. When we feel remorse for things we’ve done because that’s what you should feel, we’re damned. When…when…when: the list goes on. We cherish self-reliance, and against the face of a hostile world, those behaviors seem good. They bring out the best in us. But on their own, they’re the path to eternal damnation. You and I are still in one place and Jesus, the Light of the world and eternal love, is in another. Accept it: without Jesus, you’re damned, stuck. Whatever hell is, whether it’s fire, pain, torture, or even just permanent emotional distress, it’s the best you can hope for. Reject the love of Jesus and that’s your present and your future. You aren’t good enough.
Face it, damned friend, you need help.
Good Friday is all about that help. Good Friday is the reason Paul confidently gave this benediction to friends he knew would understand it. Good Friday is the reason he knew, and we can know, that we can be blameless and holy in the presence of God. Without Good Friday, we’re damned in front of God, and it’s a fearful thing to stand there in that condition. With Good Friday, all is forgiven; everything. My cheating and lying, your rebellion and hatred, the judgmentalism we thrust on strangers, the anger and the murder and the adultery and the idolatry are ALL forgiven. None of them will earn us the reward of hell. Because of Good Friday Jesus said, “it is finished.” His death is the defining moment in all of human history, and it makes the difference in this world and the next. Forever.
You and I are never good enough on our own. We desperately need God to intervene in our lives and make things right. On the cross, Jesus did just that. He, who really is good enough, did it today, on Good Friday. On its own, Friday is just another day. What Jesus did made you, and this holiday, more than good enough.
For further reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:1.
Lord, thanks for Your death, for Your life, for Your forgiveness.